I was in Banff for the week, in Alberta to experience Pursuit as a curator of travel with transportation, accommodations, restaurants, and excursion options. During my 3 night, 4 days stay we dined at their Brazen Restaurant across 3 meals. This is a compilation of dinner, breakfast, and lunch in the order in which we had it.
Located at the lobby of the Mount Royal Hotel, the historic property that still holds the framework of the very first hotel in Banff. Our first visit to Brazen was for dinner. The restaurant is designed to showcase all the men and women that made Banff in a period of food and drink. And it speaks to this with a more classic decor, and a menu that is as bold as its name promises.
If you can only stop by for one meal, I would highly suggest dinner, as it comes with the most show elements. Interactive at the table finishes and flourishes, on many of the dishes and drinks, to ensure your visit is a memorable one. Similar to our meals at Farm & Fire in my last post, I continued to be both surprised and impressed by how fresh everything was, in such a land locked town. Plus, an added curiosity over the fact that there were lots of Asian influences within their dinner menu with the use of bonito, matcha, and tobiko. However, we learned that none of the chefs are of Asian descent and the head chef actually hails from Canada’s prairie capital: Saskatchewan.
The following is what we had as shared servings in our group of 8. But first we would start off with drinks. The Smokin’ Warden is made with Bearface 7YO Triple Oaked Whisky, Pine Syrup, Bitters, and Orange. The cocktail is bottled and infused with smoke, then poured out table side. Served in a chilled glass with ice frozen at a slant. This is my sort of drink: stiff and smokey with a sweeter finish.
The Garden Tea Party cocktail was a wondrous spectacle. Prepared with The Botanist Gin, Peach Liquor, Lemon, and Ginger Kombucha. This too is poured out table side. Served in a tea pot, the mixed cocktail is poured over a tuft of Cotton Candy, as one melts into another sweetening the lot. The result: a drink that tastes like gummy candy.
The My My Lemon Pie delivers as promised. Made with Trailblazer Vodka, Limoncello, Cointreau, and Lemon; then garnished with Meringue. You take a bite of the latter, before sipping on the former to turn the lip puckering acidic drink sweeter.
The Pickled Deviled Eggs are topped with a Saffron Mousse and Dill. I found them a little on the acidic side and wished for a beer to better balance out the flavours. Although the burst of tobiko for freshness was a nice finishing note.
The Golden Chicken Pops were tendered minced chicken meat, cleared off the bone, and then reformed and balled back on to said clean bone. Served with a Sweet & Spicy Patis Glaze and Serrano Chili Relish. This was easy to eat as they slid right off the bone. The meat reminded me of spicy Italian sausage with the peppers and pickles accentuating its sweetness and tang.
The Sherry Cream Mushrooms were from the local Fox Farms Mushrooms, served on a crusty sourdough crostini from Uprising Bakery in town. Ideal for the mushroom lovers who prefer a creamy mix, faintly similar to cream of mushroom soup.
The Smoked Beef Tartare came with a show. It arrives table side, once smoked within a burlap cover. Once the burlap is removed, the smoke escapes and flavours the raw beef, Cognac, Garlic Aioli, Pickled Onion, and Truffle Oil through scent. This was a lean dish that really highlights the freshness of the beef, eaten on a Quinoa Cracker.
The Scallop Crudo was an excellent appetizer. (Pictured above half eaten).With its contrasting chilled yet spicy pairing it wakes both you and your appetite up. Tender, thinly sliced Scallop with Watermelon Radish, Fennel, Dill, Cucumber, and Pink Peppercorn.
The Surf & Turf is Two-Bone Passionfruit-Rubbed Pork Chops with Prosecco Bearnaise and Tobiko. The meat was on the fattier side, but it ate lean, reminding us of Cranberry and Turkey with the tartness of passion fruit on the clean tasting pork.
The Ginger Beef was Flambé with bourbon that was poured and lit ablaze table side. Certified Angus Beef Hanger Steak, Blistered Shishito Pepper, Onion, and Ginger Syrup. I liked the chewiness of the fatty beef, paired with the pickles for freshness. I just wished that the Shishito peppers were more charred and more thoroughly cooked for a more smokey flavour and chew.
The Green Tea Mussels are an interesting one. Perfectly cooked shellfish, left soaking in Matcha Broth with Tobiko. Served with more Local Uprising Bakery’s Sourdough to dip excess broth in to. You surprisingly get the bitterness of the matcha in this, although it is more coconut forward with matcha merely as the highlight. I especially enjoyed drinking the broth as is.
And as a side we ordered the Truffle Parmesan Honey Butter Potatoes that was classic comfort eating, with the salty crispy bits being my favourite part.
Be sure to save room for dessert. The Crème Brûlée should not be missed. What an incredibly unique presentation. Mimicking an ash tray this is a mix of Banff Roasting Company Coffee, Baileys and Hazelnut Powder; topped with two chocolate sticks for cigarettes. Presentation aside, this is a fantastic creme brûlée with a thick sugary crust to break through, luscious custard, and a powdery finish that has it tasting like the Coffee Crisp candy bar.
I wished their other desserts were as visually creative, because everything that came after didn’t have the same umph. The Mango Passionfruit Cheesecake was a deconstructed dessert with the ability to build your own bite between a dollop of creamy cheese, buttery crumbly crust, mango ice cream, and tangy passionfruit gel.
Similar in its non traditional fixed cake presentation was the Broken Forest Cake. A Smoked Chocolate Cake with Macerated Cherries, Mascarpone, and an Almond Crumble. A not too sweet dessert of tart cherries, fun spongy bits, and light cream. A lovely after dinner taste to end on.
After this meal I quickly labelled Banff as a foodie destination and still had 2 more times to cement this belief with Brazen. Next was breakfast at Brazen.
Everyone was eyeing it on the menu, but none of us wanted to commit to a whole sweet breakfast plate, so as a group we shared the Peanut Butter & Chocolate French Toast. Hazelnut Chocolate Spread and melted Peanut Butter over a Banana Compote stuffed Brioche sandwich. Toasted and melty this was a messy treat. A lot to have all to yourself, but the perfect tease when divided into 8 sharing pieces. Here, you must love having peanut butter coat your mouth.
For something lighter look to the Salomon and Brie Toast combo with Arugula, Caper Dill Cream Cheese, Pickled Red Onion, Lemon Zest, and Brie Cheese; between two slices of local Uprising Sourdough. Served with a side of their House-Made herbed Potatoes. This ate lean with the fragrant dill off balancing the richness of the sharp brie and the peppery greens.
For a breakfast that eats more like lunch, have the Alberta Steak & Eggs on Toast. Certified Alberta Beef Hanger Steak, Mushrooms, Pickled Onion, Arugula, House-Made Potatoes, and Local baked sourdough. And more delicious breakfast potatoes that are soft at the centre and almost seem to flatten with the pressure of your teeth and tongue pressing down. I preferred the steak as is, and didn’t feel like it needed the bed of toast and greens that it sat on. This felt like a filler and something that took away from the steak.
I had the Croque Madame. A Sunny Side Up Egg over a brioche sandwich filled with Canadian Bacon, Applewood Smoked Cheddar, and Hollandaise; served with more House-Made Potatoes. This was as sumptuous as expected. Salty ham and a lush egg over crunchy toast. Completely satisfying the morning after a night of drinking.
And our third and final visit to Brazen Banff would be for lunch.
Starting with a warming Cauliflower Soup made with Cauliflower Cream, Double Smoked Bacon, and Chives. This was everything you wanted from a slow sipping, rich soup that warms you inside and out. With the addition or crispy bacon for saltiness and textural interest.
And this point of the trip, with all our eating, the Broccolini and Blueberry Salad was just what our bodies needed. Deepwater Greens, Black Garlic Goat Cheese Coulis, and Walnuts with a Pepperoncini Vinaigrette. It gave us a Babagonoush moment with the inclusion of the nuts. Well dressed, the coulis added dramatic flavour. I would never normally order a salad, but here is was what my body was craving and it satisfied fully.
Similarly, the Beetroot Hummus Pita offered fresh vegetables in a delicious way. Cucumber, Red Onion, Jicama, Tomato, Red Cabbage, and Black Garlic Cashew Crème with a Pepperoncini Vinaigrette.
The Kobe Beef Burger was a lot more heartier. Prepared with 8oz Kobe Beef, Uprising Bakery’s Beet Brioche, Deepwater Greens, Beet Leaves, Chili Beetroot Relish, Garlic Beet Aioli, and Shopshire Cheese. The beef burger could have been a little more pink, and I would have liked more sauce to dress. The crisp vegetables were great at adding some depth, but without a creamy dressing this ate dry.
Similarly, I found the Tuna a little over cooked. I would have liked it more raw and tender. Togarashi and Sesame Seed-Crusted Tuna, Jicama, Quinoa, Cucumber Watermelon Slaw, and Snap Peas in a Citrus Vinaigrette. This was a lovely presentation. The fish ate like a steak, not the best but impressive for a land locked city. It ate clean with the pickled onion helping to brighten, whereas the raw snap pea with its distinct flavour distracted.
In closing every meal and experience with Brazen was a new and different one. I prefer and would recommend them more for dinner, if you have only one opportunity to visit.
Mount Royal Hotel
138 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L, Canada